We have suffered from the preaching of cheap grace. Grace is free, but it is not cheap. People will take anything that is free, but they are not interested in discipleship. They will take Christ as Savior but not as Lord. (Vance Havner)
I have written a few posts discussing why there is no such thing as "Cheap Grace" before (see here, here and here), so this time I was focusing my attention on whether it is indeed possible for a Christian to "take Christ as Savior but not as Lord".
How does one become a Christian? Is there anything we have to do in order to be saved? Romans 10:9 (Amplified Bible) says "if you acknowledge and confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and in your heart believe (adhere to, trust in, and rely on the truth) that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved."
From the verse, we can see that there are two requirements:
1. Confess with your lips: Jesus is Lord.
2. Believe in your heart: God raised Jesus from the dead.
Can you see it now? The bible is very precise. Romans 10:9 says we have to confess that Jesus is Lord, NOT confess that Jesus is Saviour BUT when you confess that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, YOU WILL BE SAVED ie. Jesus then becomes your Saviour.
You have to take Jesus as Lord first and then He becomes your Saviour; therefore Christ can only be your Lord AND Saviour, never just Saviour alone.
Interestingly, before Jesus died and was resurrected, there were two people recorded in the gospels who had their sins forgiven even though they did not confess their sins to Him.
John 8: 2-11, while Jesus was teaching in the temple, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery in front of Him to trap him - they challenged Jesus: "“Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?”"
Of course, those familiar with this story would know that Jesus challenged anyone without sin to cast the first stone and they all eventually left the woman alone. Jesus then asked the woman, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" The woman answered, "No one, Lord." Then Jesus told the woman,"Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."
Did the woman confess her sins to Jesus? No, but Jesus did not condemn her. Why? Take note of what she said; the bible is very precise. She said, "No one, Lord." She confessed that Jesus is Lord while in contrast, the scribes and Pharisees acknowledged Jesus as merely a "teacher."
Luke 23:42-43 records the conversation between Jesus and one of the thieves hanging on a cross beside Him. The thief said, "Lord, remember me when You come in Your kingly glory!" This thief had great revelation! These were the most important words he ever spoke in his life:
Lord, remember me - The thief confessed that Jesus is Lord!
when You come in Your kingly glory - The thief believed that Jesus is going to be resurrected and come back in glory!
What happened to the thief? Jesus told him,"Truly I tell you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise." The thief was saved, hallelujah!
This concept or "theology" of a Christian accepting Jesus as Saviour but not Lord is an impossibility because Jesus can only be your Saviour when you accept Him as your Lord.
The word "Lord" in the verses quoted above are one and the same in Greek:
1) he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord
1a) the possessor and disposer of a thing
1a1) the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
1a2) in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
1b) is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
1c) this title is given to: God, the Messiah
From the definition, we can see that when we acknowledge that Jesus is the master, the one who has control of our lives ie. confess that Jesus is Lord, then can he be our Saviour AND when Jesus is our Lord and Saviour, we enter into sonship, NOT discipleship:
Romans 8:15-16 (Amplified Bible)
For [the Spirit which] you have now received [is] not a spirit of slavery to put you once more in bondage to fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption [the Spirit producing sonship] in [the bliss of] which we cry, Abba (Father)! Father!
The Spirit Himself [thus] testifies together with our own spirit, [assuring us] that we are children of God.